My husband doesn't ask for a lot. He's literally the most validating in the person in the world to feed — that man will be the most grateful person ever if you just put a plate of bacon in front of him. His favorite Christmas gift is honestly just wool socks. Sometimes I think he loves rainy days just because he is thankful for being indoors and not sleeping on the wet ground and it gives him perspective.
He's totally a trooper on all of our travels — he'll go to antique stores with me (weirdly, he doesn't hate this, as he finds some cool military stuff at most of them), doesn't mind when I lolly-gag because I'm waiting for the right photo somewhere, and is perfectly content doing to nonsense hipster restaurants with me as long as it's not a vegan joint. And the only trip he's asked for the entire time he's been stationed in Italy is to go to Normandy during D-Day — and man, I've wished it for him so badly for three years. And finally, this year, he miraculously got to go.
I still don't know how Tyler scored a chute — he was the only person in his entire military company (about 100 guys) who was picked to go, and one out of a handful of guys from his battalion. I'm pretty sure that even after he got the slot, he tried to give it away to someone who he thought was more deserving — because that's just the kind of person he is. He really just thought there were soldiers who had earned it more than he did. But, there he was — on his way to Normandy with the 173rd during the commemoration of one of the most important military dates in American — and world — history.
And man, what an amazing experience it was. Tyler spent a little over a week in Normandy, and I flew up for the last few days of his stay there on my own dime with some amazingly supportive girlfriends, Delaney and Kirsten, to meet up with him. While he was there, he took part in a lot of fantastic ceremonies to commemorate D-Day and was able to talk to many French locals who were alive during actual D-Day — he even had dinner with a French family that took him and a few other soldiers in and fed them a proper, traditional Norman meal. He was in awe of how much the Normans still appreciate the Americans, and couldn't believe at the vast amount of American flags he saw flown during his time around the countryside. The stereotype of the French hating Americans couldn't be further from the truth up there.
Visiting Normandy during the anniversary of D-Day was definitely something that we'll never forget. It's one thing to learn about what happened from history books and be told how important these things are — it's another to see the vast beaches with your own eyes, touch the sand so many people died on so many years before, and talk to people who were actually liberated and are still so thankful for that sacrifice. I'm so thankful that Tyler was able to take part in the D-Day anniversary commemoration in Normandy, and that I was there to document his absolute appreciation and wonder at every piece of history he came upon.